Friday, July 29, 2011

Let's Go Camping

Recipe for Smores Brownie Bars HERE

I will admit I am not the camping type.  I know that sounds very high maintenance, but it's true.  My favorite thing about such an adventure is not being at one with nature or the calm of leaving the real world filled with  modern conveniences behind.  No, it's the smores.  I love the taste of melted chocolate on a crisp graham cracker combined with that smoky gooey goodness of a melting marshmallow.  There's just nothing like it.  In fact, just last week I made those smores brownie bars, and holy cow, they knocked our socks off!! 

So while you won't find me pitching a tent in the woods bright and early tomorrow morning, I will indeed be going camping.  Training Camping that is!!!

In just 35 minutes, the Saints open the doors to the 2011 training camp, and tomorrow, we are heading to their morning practice. I cannot wait to arrive at the team facility and see the green turf lined with players dressed in their finest black and gold. Since free agents can officially be signed this evening, we should see some new faces on the field. And of course, there's a bit of sadness as we had to say goodbye to some of our favorite Saints.

For more from my trip to the White House HERE

To my dear Reggie (I consider us on a first name basis since we met last year at the White House),

I am one Saints fan who will be forever grateful for what you did for our organization. I truly think there was a higher power at work when the Texans chose to take Mario Williams with their first pick in the 2006 NFL draft.  At a time when it seemed our franchise was moving to any city that would take us and our people were living in any city where they could find refuge, you were drafted by our team.  For the first time in team history, we had a face to our franchise.  You made us a brand name.  Growing up a Saints fan, the only time you saw a black and gold jersey in a commercial was when someone else's offense was breaking our tackles and scoring touchdowns.  Not so any more thanks to you.

As a 22 year old kid, you came to this city and before stepping foot on a field, you gave back.  You donated vehicles to first responder units, field turf for a football stadium, and money to a high school in desperate need of operating funds.  You took us on as your project, and we took you in as one of our own. 

Much will be speculated about your career here and what could have been and what should have been.  All I know is, with you, we went to the NFC Championship game in 2006 and won a superbowl in 2010.  At a time when we didn't feel like waking up everyday and giving life in New Orleans another go, you inspired us to push on and move upwards.  You were a part of an extraordinary group of men who played this game for us, the fans, so that we could wake up on a Monday and feel joy and relief and hope that if we all have one common goal and we work toward that goal anything is possible.  Gayle Sayers did many things, but he didn't do that. 

I wish you nothing but the best.  You were a class act when you arrived in New Orleans and a class act as you left.  I hope you always call this place your home, because to us you're a Saint for life.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

24 Weeks: Home is Where Your Heart Is

Dear Baby A,

Can you believe you are 24 weeks old?!  I know it's too early for you to understand division, but 24 divided by 4 equals - six.  I'm six months pregnant!  Holy cow!  I told your daddy that six months pregnant seems like such a grown up thing to be.  He thinks that's very silly, but seriously, for some reason when I think of being 6 months preggo I suddenly feel very much like an adult.  I know, I know, I have been an adult for some time, but it really hits home that sooner than later we'll be your parents.  Me, a parent.  Wow!  It's exciting and kind of scary all at the same time.  I hope you take after your daddy and are patient while we learn all there is to know about raising a little one.

This weekend, daddy and I decided to go for an adventure to St. Francisville, La.  On our way, we stopped in Manchac for some thin crispy fried catfish at Middendorf's.  Once in St. Francesville, we toured the Rosedown Plantation.  You should have seen it, BabyA.  It is just lovely.  Imagine how beautiful it will be in the fall when the flowers are in bloom!  After our tour, Daddy and I drove around the charming streets of the historic district.  It is a picture perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Rosedown Plantation

You see, Baby A, you will have the privilege of being raised in the great state of Louisiana, South Lousiana to be exact.  Down here we celebrate all of life's big events, but we celebrate nothing at all just the same.  Down here you will come to associate the seasons as follows: your first football game of fall, your first parade of winter, your first crawfish boil of spring, and your first evacuation of the summer.  You'll come to find that no matter how different we all are, when you're from South Louisiana, at the heart of it, we're all really very much the same.  We love food, we love life, and we love our family.  And family isn't defined by the people you're related to by blood.  Your family is made up of all of the people that surround your little world and fill it with love. 

Daddy and I had an amazing experience of living in Beaufort, SC for four years.  And in that time we truly came to love that community, and more than anything we loved the people we met there that will be our friends forever.  But there was one thing that was certain while we were away, we had left our hearts in LA.  For me, it is home.  It is the place where I feel most like myself.  Where people understand why you might not want to leave when a storm comes your way, because you truly can't imagine a life anywhere else. 

As you get older, I promise to try not to guilt you into staying down here and living your life here.  I will be honest with you, I'm an Italian Catholic, so guilt is my primary resource when it comes to this type of thing.  Instead, be prepared to spend your childhood going to festivals, strolling through the French Quarter, touring plantations, taking afternoon drives through the cane fields in the fall, sitting high atop a ladder at every parade that passes down St. Charles Ave, boiling crawfish, and going to Saints games.  If I can't guilt you into making this place your home, certainly we can show you how special it is so you can see that there's just no place like it.  And even if you decide to go away, you'll visit all the time!

Home is where your heart is little one.  I truly hope you find that your heart tugs everytime you're away from this place too long.  Then you'll know you left it here too.


Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Thai Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry

While I'm certainly not dieting during my pregnancy, I have been trying to eat light and resist the temptation to eat whatever my little heart desires.  It certainly is tempting to do so, but I know the only person who will have to confess to the Weight Watcher gods come mid-November about what my real pregnancy cravings were will be me. 

The one thing I've learned on WW over the years is that, if prepared correctly, you can make a flavorful meal that is satisfying and hearty and very very tasty too. 

For help in this area, I always turn to Gina's Skinny Taste blog.  Recently, I had the urge to order Chinese food.  I'm not sure why as that's not something we regularly do in our house, but it sounded very appetizing.  Rather than order the Madarin Chicken that comes deep fried and coated in a mystery sauce that is what heaven must taste like, I added Gina's recipe for Thai Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry to our weekly menu.  Whew!  Cravings disaster avoided.

This dish was one of my favorites we have made in a long time!  It called for Thai Kitchen's Pineapple and Chili Dipping Sauce, but after a mad search at two groceries, we settled on Thai Kitchen's Sweet Chili Sauce.  To avoid tremendous heartbearn, I left out the optional red chili pepper.  Also, as a way to bulk up on flavor and reduce calories, I cut back on the amount of chicken we included and added one onion cut into large chunks.  We served this over jasmine rice (which I think has such a lovely flavor and aroma) and topped it with a few teaspoons of toasted and chopped cashews.  Mmmm!!  The addition of the fresh pineapple and the cilantro make the dish perfect for summer cooking!  This recipe is the cure all for your next take out craving...

Thai Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Size: 1.25 cups • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 186.6 • Fat: 4.6 g • Carbs: 15.5 g • Fiber: 0.9 g • Protein: 20.8 g • Sugar: 8.3
Sodium: 557.2


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp Thai Kitchen fish sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp oil, divided
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups cubed assorted colors bell peppers (1/2-inch cubes)
1 red chili pepper, chopped (optional or to taste)
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 cup Thai Kitchen Pineapple & Chili dipping sauce
cilantro leaves (for garnish)


Mix chicken and fish sauce in medium bowl. Add cornstarch; toss to evenly coat. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and
ginger; stir fry 30 seconds. Add bell peppers, chili pepper if using and pineapple; stir fry 3 to 5 minutes or until peppers are tender-crisp. Add sauce; cook and stir until heated through. Remove from skillet.

Heat remaining oil in the skillet. Add chicken; stir fry 5 minutes or until cooked through. Return bell pepper mixture to skillet; stir fry until well blended. Garnish with cilantro.

Do you have a savory dish that calls for fresh pineapple?  I love the sweetness it adds!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Boys Are Back in Town!

136 days!!!

136 days without football is far, far too many.  But as of 10:00 am tomorrow morning, the Saints players can enter the team facility for the first time since the lockout began on March 3rd.    It truly would not be July without the hopes and dreams that come along with training camp.  July brings with it the hopes of the fans that we'll once again hoist the Lombardi trophy and July brings with it the dream of every kid who imagined they'd one day put on a shiny new helmet emblazoned with one of 32 exclusive emblems.  

We can start talking to free agents tomorrow and can officially have them signed on Friday evening.  It's going to be a mad rush to secure our own free agents.  I wish all the luck in the world to our GM Mickey Loomis and all of our players who are needing to be re-signed.  Our team wouldn't have been the same without a single one of them.  And if by some chance on Friday, the team and our free agents have to part ways, those guys will be Saints forever!  And, of course, they will always be 2009 World Champions.

Who Dat!  I'm ready for some football!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

23 Weeks: Best Friends Forever

Dear Baby A,

You are 23 weeks this week!  I can't believe how fast time is going by.  This week, I have been feeling you  move a lot more.  You're getting so big and strong.  I love feeling you flip around in my tummy!!  It is the most amazing feeling mommy has ever felt.

Mommy got a wonderful and completely unexpected surprise this week.  When I got home from a long day at work, there was a large box on our front porch.  When I opened the box, I discovered the most beautiful gold and white striped tissue paper that hid beneath it a Kate Spade green and turquoise box wrapped in a perfectly tied chocolate bow.  It was so pretty I almost didn't want to open it.  ALMOST!  I just couldn't imagine who had sent such an extravagant gift...

And I opened the card discreetly tucked in the box, and it read, "A stylish tote for our stylish friend! We can't wait to welcome lucky Baby A into this world! Love your NYC girls: Kat, Jen, and Marie."  Baby A, mommy's sweet friends sent us your baby bag.  It was truly one of the most special and generous gifts  I have ever received.  I talked to each of your NYC aunts, and they love you so much and can't wait to get to meet you over Christmas!

Baby A's baby bag

Baby A, I don't want you to think I'm saying that a glamorous gift is the measure of a friendship.  But knowing that your friends are thinking of you during such a special time certainly is.  Mommy and Daddy have been truly blessed with the most wonderful friends.  There is no way to measure how much they have enriched our lives.  One of the things I look most forward to is introducing you to them.  It is such an incredible thing to share this experience with the very girls who spent nights with me staying up late giggling about my crush on your Daddy, stood by my side at our wedding, and welcome us into their homes for Thanksgivings and Easters.  They are more than our friends, they are our family.  And with you, that family will grow even stronger.  

I hope you have a wonderful 23rd week!

Mommy and Daddy

Friday, July 15, 2011

Week 22: A Bump and Baby Bedding

Good afternoon, Baby A!

Can you believe we're past the 22 week point?  You have officially made your way into the world this week.  Last Sunday, Mommy had to break down and purge her closet of almost all of the non-maternity clothes.  Why?  Because what has long been just an exaggerated muffin top is finally a real live baby bump.  I have to admit, while it creeps me out to think people are focusing more and more on my abdomen, I really love seeing you growing in there.  Every morning when I get ready for work, I am amazed to see that your are in fact living in my tummy! 

Just in case you are a little fashionista, I thought I'd share with you Mommy's favorite shopping spree item...
A Pea in the Pod two button blazer in Navy!

Baby A, your bedding finally arrived this week!  Daddy and I are so excited.  It is just like what we pictured.  This weekend we are going to pick out a paint color for your nursery and fabric for your glider.  By the end of the month, your furniture should arrive, and your room will start to look more and more like it does in Mommy's head (or rather on the pages of Restoration Hardware Baby and Child).

I can't wait for you to see it!  It should be a very peaceful place.  It will be focused around colors like cream and taupe and white.  I don't want you to think that we expect you to be boring, it's just that as much as I try to be one of those surprise "pops of color people," I'm not.  Which makes me wonder what kind of person you'll be.  Will you be more like me or more like daddy?  Or will you be some combination of the two of us, uniquely your own?  I think the farther along I am in my pregancy, the more I begin to wonder about you.  And the more I wonder, the more excited I get to meet you!!

Have a great week, Baby A

Love, Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I have had a few people ask me what, if any, pregnant cravings I have had.  My response- peanut butter and watermelon.  Not together, silly!  But, those are the foods I think about all day long!  I could eat an entire watermelon in one sitting.  I'm not kidding.  In fact, I had about a cup of it at lunch today.  It just tastes so refreshing.  As for the peanut butter, I keep a jar of Peter Pan reduced fat, whipped PB in my desk drawer.  Yesterday, I went to the cafe downstairs and bought a banana and spread peanut butter on it bite by bite.  It might have been the most delicious thing I'd eaten in weeks!  All that talk of PB and bananas, one of my favorite flavor combos, made me interested in discovering a new PB and banana recipe.  I discovered the website Baking Bites on my search and came across their recipe for PB and banana oatmeal cookies.  They sound too good not to try.  I love that they were described as a cross between oatmeal cookies and banana bread - how do you go wrong with either of these?!?!    I can't wait to bake a batch this weekend.  
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 cup peanut butter (I'm going to use crunchy)
1/4 cup mashed banana (from 1 sm/med)
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter. Beat in egg until smooth, then mix in the peanut butter and mashed banana. Working by hand or with a mixer on low speed, blend dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture. Stir in the oats.
Shape dough into tablespoons and place on baking sheet, flattening each slightly with your fingers.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies just begin to turn golden around the edges.
Cool on a wire rack.

Makes approx 2 dozen.
Do you have any cravings lately?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Commenting Issues

Grrrr....  Do you ever read a blog post and then spend a considerable amount of time writing a comment only to find that you are unable to publish the comment?

This has been happening more and more lately.  I have found that even though I am signed in, I will write a comment and then blogger will request that I choose an identity.  When I select google login, it will make me sign in again.  You'd think that would be the solution, right?  Wrong!  It then logs me in as anonymous and continues to ask me to login.  It's a cycle that has me wanting to pull my hair out.

Does anyone have any suggestions??  If you can't comment, feel free to email me at

I hope to be leaving you little thoughts very soon.  I have really been enjoying what eveyone has to say, and I wish I could tell you each individually!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

21 Weeks: Here and There and Everywhere

Dear Baby A,

You are 21 weeks today!  Your daddy and I were talking about what a milestone that is.  We are now more than halfway there and closer to meeting you than ever.  The time goes so fast, and while I am very excited to get to see your tiny little face, I am trying to appreciate every moment we have together - just you and me.

This weekend, you traveled to South Dakota and celebrated your first 4th of July with Daddy's mommy and all of your aunts and uncles.  Everyone loves you so much already, especially Uncle Barnaby who has accepted our request that he be your Godfather.  Did you know that mommy knew Uncle Barnaby way before she met daddy?!  He's an accountant just like me.  Isn't that funny, Baby A.  One day, you can read all about how Mommy and Daddy met, HERE

It was about ten years ago that Mommy boarded a plane headed to North Dakota to visit Daddy and see where he grew up.  It was the first time Mommy had ever been that far north!  I didn't know on that trip that I would return to the Dakotas ten years later married to Daddy and with you on the way.  What I did know then was that your daddy was very special, and he was someone I wanted to travel the world with. 

And Baby A, one of my greatest hopes for you is that you too get to travel the world and see all of the beautiful things it has to offer you.  I want for you to see the majesty of Aspen when its mountains are covered in snow.  I want you to wonder at the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.  To ride a carriage through Central Park and walk the Brooklyn Bridge and have breakfast at Tiffany's.  I want you to see the crookedest street in San Francisco and the beaches of San Diego.  I want you to smell the blooms of the bouquets that abundantly line the markets in Seattle and pick wild flowers in Portland.  I want you to taste Ropa Vieja in Miami and build sand castles in Destin.  I want you see where Democracy lives in DC - visit the Capital and the White House.  Learn about justice and freedom.  I want you to sail in the Meditteranean and hear the sound of an accordian playing in the streets of Paris. 

Baby A, I want for you to see that the world has no boundaries.  I want you to learn that we are all connected in one way or another.  I hope that by seeing the world, you find a bit of yourself in each place you visit and each person you meet, and in doing so, that you gain the understaning that it is not our similarities that make us beautiful but our differences. 

Have a wonderful 21st week!

Love Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Easy Caramel Rolls

Sometimes, life couldn't be sweeter!!  Our vacation started with some very good news - I got a big promotion at work.   That news was followed by a caramel roll from Tally's Silver Spoon in Rapid City and the world's best prenatal massage.  Seriously - how sweet it is!

I find that in the South it is easy to come by sticky buns or cinnamon rolls, but it is not as easy to find a caramel roll.  The one we sampled at Tally's was absolutely delightful.  It was sweet and buttery and crispy on the outside but soft and doughy on the inside.  My sister-in-law made some caramel rolls yesterday for breakfast, and they were just as good as Tally's.  She had a very handy method for making them using frozen bread loaves.  I thought I'd share this delicious and easy to prep recipe!

  • Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine the brown sugar, melted butter and cream in the baking dish and spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Roll the bread dough into a 12x16 inch rectangle.

In a small bowl or plastic bag, combine the sugar a cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the rolled out dough.

Roll into a long jelly roll and cut into 6 rolls (12 if you want smaller servings).

Place the rolls over the brown sugar mixture.

Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to double in size, about 30 to 40 minutes.

When ready, bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until brown on top. Invert onto a platter and serve.

I hope it adds a little something sweet to your day!


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